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Quebec's New COVID-19 Measures & Curfew Are Set To Begin — Here's What You Need To Know

Grocery stores are expected to be closed on 4 days this month.

Contributing Writer
Quebec's New COVID-19 Measures & Curfew Are Set To Begin — Here's What You Need To Know

Here we go again. Chances are you've heard some of the news from Thursday's press conference: several new COVID-19 measures are coming into effect in Quebec on Friday, December 31 at 5 p.m. — including a curfew and ban on gatherings. So much for those New Year's Eve plans, eh?

"Experts tell us there's a risk that [our hospitals] won't be able to treat all those who need it in the coming weeks. I know we're all tired, but it's my responsibility to protect ourselves from this. [...] I know the restrictions are difficult. I know there's a lot of anxiety. If you're not feeling well, it's important to ask for help. We have to take care of each other. But I still want to wish all Quebecers health and happier news for 2022," said Premier François Legault at the conference.

Regardless of how you feel about the frequently-changing health measures, there's no denying they can get confusing. If you're feeling lost and want to avoid breaking the rules as well as potential fines, we've rounded up the latest restrictions below.

Curfew

Curfew is back almost one year after the initial curfew was announced. Quebec's first curfew period lasted more than four months, from January 9 to May 28, 2021.

The curfew hours are a little shorter this time around. As of December 31, most Quebecers must be indoors from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Fines for violating the curfew range from $1,000 to $6,000.

There are exceptions for essential workers who have to be out during those hours, for people seeking health care and for what the government calls other, unspecified "humanitarian reasons."

The first curfew also applied to unhoused Quebecers until a superior court judge ordered an exemption, citing the rule's "discriminatory and disproportionate effect" on the unhoused population.

On Thursday, the premier said the curfew was necessary because while "the majority of Quebecers respect the [health] measures, [...] there's a minority that does not respect the measures." He further claimed that it would be impossible for police to enforce a curfew that only applied to the unvaccinated.

"It's a measure that's extreme because the situation is extreme," he continued, promising that as the current wave of COVID-19 infections dies down, the curfew will be the first rule lifted.

As if anticipating criticism, the government published a document on Thursday night claiming "several studies demonstrate the effects and efficacy of a curfew."

In the document, the Ministry of Health and Social Services says the decision to reintroduce a curfew is based in part on "modelling showing that a curfew could reduce hospitalizations."

Restaurants

Restaurant dining rooms are joining the list of eating, drinking and gaming establishments that must close. However, you can still support your favourite food spots by ordering via take-out, drive-thru and delivery.

Gatherings

Cancel your New Year's party plans because private gatherings are no longer allowed indoors — except with members of your own household.

There are some exceptions. According to the Government of Quebec's website, someone providing support or service, like a caregiver, may still visit another residence. Also, a person who lives alone can join another family bubble.

For those who can stand the cold weather, no changes to outdoor gathering rules have been announced. Outdoor gatherings were last capped at 20 people or the occupants of three households.

Outdoor events may also still take place with a maximum of 250 people.

Stores

Shops, which are already operating at a reduced 50% capacity limit, must now also close on Sundays.

Depanneurs, gas stations and pharmacies are exceptions so you'll be able to get some essential items on Sundays. However, grocery stores are set to close both this Saturday for New Year's and this Sunday as well as on January 9 and 16.

Premier Legault said this move was meant to help stores contend with a shortage of employees.

"Companies that offer services such as plumbers and veterinarians can remain open on Sunday," the government says.

Schools

All schools across the province — including CEGEPs and universities — will remain closed until January 17, but remote learning should be in place to fill in gaps until face-to-face learning can resume.

School daycare services will remain open for parents that really need them, such as essential workers.

Sports

All indoor sports are suspended unless they are done individually, in pairs or with occupants of the same household. But keep in mind that gyms and fitness centres remain closed.

Outdoor sports are still allowed. However, access to cabins and pavilions may be restricted. For example, the indoor facilities at ski hills are only open to people who need to warm up or use the bathroom.

Places Of Worship

Places of worship must close unless they are holding funerals, which are limited to 25 people indoors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact the Crisis Services Canada helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, or consult these additional resources. If you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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